Hi Guys….we’re all dealing with the craziness and uncertainty of this situation with COVID-19 and what the future brings. And on top of the bigger anxieties, we have the issues of working from home, with kids and adjusting to this new way of life. We aren’t eve sure how long this is expected to last but we have to go on and we have to keep the family, companies and country going.
I’ve worked from home for years so I’m used to it but most people aren’t and my clients find it strange, and even uncomfortable. As you know I am a Business coach so I hear daily how they’re adjusting. So I hope these tips will be helpful to those of you who are new to remote work.
No, you shouldn’t stay in your pajamas all day. And yes, it’s hard to stay focused. Here are a few tips that will help you a bit, when working from home:
- Attitude is Everything
First and foremost your attitude to this entire situation is what will get you through it, as well as your family, because you’re the lead in this. You could allow yourself to drown in fear and worry or get past that and move on to dealing with what is at hand. So take stock, look at the small mercies, gratitude is everything, you’re alive and so are your loved ones, how do you keep it that way and how do you organise things so that everything can run smoothly. Stop, think, note what is needed and what changes can help with certain issues, for e.g you’re working at home now, so where do you set up. Where is your space? The kids are home where is their homework and play zone? Do you have to develop a schedule for them and more? put answers to those questions but with an attitude of strength, positivity and for the kids….a fun, yet serious, calm and cool mindset. Kids adopt the attitudes of their parents.
2. Have a Designated Work Space
Whether its the corner of your bedroom or the kitchen or the side room, make sure that everyone understands that it your work area and that once you’re there you shouldn’t be disturbed. If you doing a lot of Online meetings then you need to find a space where the light is good, your internet connection is strong, you have a desk or table with enough space to hold all your documents and everything else you may want. Taking Zoom calls can be challenging if you don’t have a quiet place. Try to ensure that there is minimal visual distractions ( although I know you have to deal with the kids but that’s another aspect we will address).
3. Create A Schedule
To be able to handle new, unexpected situations that also involve your kids, you must have some sort of plan. Have a schedule that allows everyone to get into a routine. Routine is the key and that means getting everyone into a new routine due to the new situation. An example is that your schedule could now be that:
- you wake up early as usual,
- you make breakfast, bathe, organise you plan workwise to achieve that day (including any online zoom meetings scheduled, specifically, making a list of the tasks you need to complete in order to meet your goals for the day),
- the kids wake up at a reasonable time,
- the kids have breakfast,
- The kids either do their school work or they do some chores or they have play time.
You have to decide how this schedule for your routine will flow. This will change chaos into order. But make sure to take breaks and to take lunch rather than eating as you work.
4. Dress for Work (if necessary)
I have clients who encounter the problem that family members, because you’re home, now feel that you’re available to help them with chores or to cook or help with the kids….to play with them or help them do their work. One way of letting them know that you’re still working, but it’s just that you’re home, is to dress for work or go into a room that you can close the door, or lock the door. Definitely don’t stay in your pajamas…and if you have low energy, take a bath and change into decent clothes. It’s especially important that you get dressed in the morning in clothes that are comfortable, but would pass as ‘professional-ish’ for your Zoom call.
5. Embrace the Technology
Technology is now our friend and our saviour. There were many who were afraid of technology or demonised it and now it saves our sanity and that is what it’s all about. Embrace the use of the technology. This is your opportunity to learn more about it and use it for you and your family’s benefit to ease the distress and to ease the fear. Some of us should avoid listening too often to the news (can build fear), stay abreast, but use the technology such as:
a. Zoom, loom – for meetings and to talk to whoever you want to
b. Whatsapp – for free calls and facetime
c. facebook, Twitter, Instagram – to stay connected
d. Udemy, Skillshare etc – to do courses online to keep the mind vibrant
e. The SelfControl app for Mac. Blocks time-wasting websites for a specified duration.
f. Google calendar. You and your husband can have a shared calendar of calls, demos, interviews, and general ‘I need the house to be quiet’ time.
All of these platforms can let us learn as we stay indoors, do a course, or do exercises via youtube videos etc.
6. Managing your Kids
If you have kids, this can make it particularly tricky because you will have no time when the kids are up, to get your work done. Here are a few suggestions for juggling childcare and work:
- Segment your parenting time with your working time. Multi-tasking does NOT work with kids, especially young children who should not be left unsupervised and/or cannot adequately entertain themselves. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can do both. Provide dedicated, quality time to each obligation separately.
- Be patient with yourself and your kid. Working with kids is hard. The best you can do is set everyone’s expectations—both for your coworkers and your kids. It helps when you explain to your kids what you’re working on and give them a small tasks to help. Let them shredded papers or sort out office supplies. Or give them some craft or puzzles or a book or something to do
- Start work when your kids are still sleeping.
- Have a strict schedule of work for them, especially as most of the schools are sending assignments for the kids to complete for when school reopens. The first few days of quarantine were total chaos and I’m sure it still, may not have settled down, but better late than never. Once you’ve implement the strict schedule, with absolutely no negotiation (kids will try to get their way), things will go much more smoothly. You can relax the schedule a bit in the future, but right now structure will help your kids feel more secure.
7. Manage your Pets
Pet’s can offer companionship when working from home, but they can also be distracting. The pets can be very helpful as a distraction for the kids…let them feed them or bathe them etc and Pets help take away the tensions from humans, but if they want to be loving while you’re doing work , or they’re a distraction then you’ll have to place them somewhere else.
8. Break the Routine Sometime
Make sure to take breaks, eat on time, spend time with the kids (place that in the routine/schedule). Go outside! At the end of a work-from-home day, make sure to go outside for a bit, even if it’s just a short walk or to run a quick errand (grocery or pharmacy only). This is very helpful, and if you don’t have a designated space for an office but you’re working from your sofa, take a moment to walk around the neighbourhood, that helps you to close your workday and deal with your personal life. Another helpful activity is sitting in your garden for a little while.
Go outside. It’s dead simple and amazingly powerful. Either by yourself or with your spouse (if he/she happens to be at home) and take a 30-minute walk. The fresh air, natural light, and mental disconnect from all things electronic/media do WONDERS for your focus, energy, and productivity. Also make sure to get the kids outside. There are also lots of exercises on Youtube and my husband and I do one every day or every other day. We either do a Kettlebell exercise, Yoga or Pilates, you choose.
Breaks are very important, so take regular breaks to stretch, see the sky, hear the birds get some light on your face. Play with the kids and the pets, play games together, call family who maybe abroad, give your brain a break from working too much so you don’t get burnt out.
9. Set Your Work Parameters
Working from home becomes difficult when your team members, managers and whoever you work with believe they can contact you whenever and whatever time they find convenient to them. That has to be stopped in it’s tracks immediately. Set parameters, make sure everyone, your boss included understands that you’re not working beyond a certain time. This allows life to have a separation so it doesn’t get intertwined and you’re working all day and night and the kids don’t follow a routine and there is chaos in the house.
Don’t worry, things will settledown and then working from home won’t be so bad, you might even like it. I love working from home, I don’t have to deal with the traffic, I can take a break and do something for the home, I can watch a movie, then go back to work. I get a lot done when I work from home. I love working from home so this period is fine by me, it can be manageable by you. Try using some of the tips I listed above, hope they help you.